Hearts head coach Ian Cathro admits his players need to rediscover their confidence after Ross County condemned the Gorgie outfit to a third straight defeat.

Alex Schalk scored the only goal of the game just six minutes after the restart to hand the Staggies a memorable first victory at Tynecastle.

A run of six winless matches, including the painful Scottish Cup loss to city rivals Hibs, has left Cathro facing intense scrutiny over his suitability for the job and the former Newcastle United number two insists the team’s confidence has taken a hit on the pitch.

Cathro, whose side lost at Patrick Thistle on Saturday, said: “We are trying to help the players feel more positive and bring the confidence back into their play.

“It’s clear we have a bad week. We’ve had disappointing results, we’ve taken few hits – particularly the completely unacceptable performance against Hibs.

“It was maybe not as negative but there were some poor issues on Saturday. I dont see tonight’s game in that category.

“It was certainly improved in that sense.”

Boos rang out at Tynecastle at full-time but Cathro praised the supporters for their backing during another frustrating 90 minutes.

He added: “I thought the fans were excellent throughout the game, particularly towards the end, in staying with the team.

“I think they recognised the players had the determination and fight to resolve the situation.

“We have to be very positive and thankful for that.

“Every club experiences these moments. It’s difficult but the solutions are simple – sticking together and pushing through together. I am very appreciative of the supporters for staying with the team and fighting beside them. Sticking together is key.”

County manager Jim McIntyre, meanwhile, hailed match-winner Schalk after revealing that the Dutchman had only just returned from his homeland following his grandad’s funeral.

McIntyre, whose side are five points adrift of the top six and as many points clear of basement outfit Inverness, said: “It was great to see Alex get the winner, it epitomised his spirit and his determination for the team.

“He lost his granddad and went over to the funeral in Holland yesterday and he flew straight back to fight the cause for us.

“I was delighted for the wee man.

 “I didn’t know it was our first win at Tynecastle, we were just looking at it as three points we needed.”